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If you could sum up Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage in three words, what would they be?
educational, entertaining and enjoyable
What other book might you compare Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths of Language Usage to, and why?
Prof McWhorter's other lecture series on the history of language because they are both of a high quality.
Have you listened to any of Professor John McWhorter’s other performances? How does this one compare?
This is the third of his lecture series I've heard and he never fails to engage and entertain whilst leadimh the listener through some challenging ideas.
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
It's 18 hours long, so no.
Any additional comments?
I came away feeling like I'd really learnt something new and thoroughly enjoyed the process. This is how all learning should be.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
This was enthralling, the content is fascinating and the lecturer is fun with a mesmeric style. I loved it!
Any additional comments?
I never had any particular interest in linguistics, but I LOVE The Great Courses, and if you follow their Facebook page, you learn pretty quickly that two linguistics professors (John McWhorter and Anne Curzan) are constantly getting rave recommendations from listeners.
As a result, I have now taken the plunge, and thanks to The Great Courses, I am in danger of becoming a linguistics nut.
The title of the course (Myths, Lies, and Half-truths of Language Usage) is really just a provocative way to say that this comprehensive survey of the English language is guaranteed to bust any preconceptions you had about "proper" English.
John McWhorter is quick-witted, quirky, and clearly an expert in his field. Unlike with some professors, you won't be tempted to use the speed controls on your Audible app to speed him up. He moves quickly and packs a ton of information, stories, and silly asides into every 30 minute lecture. You get your money's worth.
Professor McWhorter covers the complete history of how English evolved to it's present-day state (or states, to be more accurate), making the point repeatedly that modern English is itself filled with shortcuts and bastardizations of its ancestors, all for the sake of economy and clarity.
You'll learn that prescriptivist notions of "proper" English never even emerged until the arrival of the printing press, and the first dictionaries didn't come until centuries later. So the notion that proper language usage is a fixed thing, frozen in time, is a relatively new phenomenon.
So be warned. If you are looking to learn what's "proper," you will likely be frustrated by McWhorter or any of the other linguistics offerings from The Great Courses. McWhorter repeatedly hammers home the point that language is fluid, and like it or not, all the grammar teachers in the world could never stop language in it's tracks.
Overall, a fun listen. The Great Courses has three other titles by McWhorter, and I will be buying them all!
31 of 32 people found this review helpful
Prof. McWhorter maintains that "funnest" is not a word you can use, but I'll bet he knows what I mean.
Maybe the best thing I can say about this lecture series is that, like a very good and compelling novel, I found myself driving around the block or listening in the garage because I found it so engaging. On one hand, I didn't want it to end, but on the other, I did so that I could write a glowing review.
So many interesting tidbits about English and other languages and how words and expressions evolved. He gives great examples - some very humorous. He explains the difference between spoken and written language; in all languages, spoken is much more casual and less rigid than written, which allows you to plan, go back and re-write and edit (as I'm dong now) what's being written. He maintains that language is always evolving and will always continue to, and that the new electronic ways of communicating - e-mail, texting, IM, are really more like speach than writing. He finds no linguistic problem with these forms nor does he feel that they will affect the written language in a bad way.
He's very entertaining, easy to understand and skirts around socially offensive "bad" words without actually saying them, but in a very funny way.
I'll mention the applause between lectures as I did for another of the Great Courses Lecture series. I think it should be done away with - it's distracting.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful